We got up at 3 am to get ready to leave and actually left the house at 4:30 am to drive to Noosa Heads. We were planning to drive along the beach, so we were timing the trip so that the beach driving would be 2 hours before and after low tide. We arrived at Noosa Heads around 7 am and took the ferry across the river - about a 5 minute trip. We got off the ferry and started driving on sand. The beaches along the east coast of Great Sandy National Park and Fraser Island are actually declared as a national highway and all the regular rules apply.
The beaches are very long. We drove about 50 km before taking the ferry across to Fraser Island to Seventy Five Mile Beach (Not Km, Miles) and we were planning on driving halfway up Fraser Island before heading across the Island to the west side to the Kingfisher resort.
We were well up Great Sandy National Park when we stopped for our first coffee break.
This ship is/was the Cherry Venture. During a huge storm in the early seventies, this ship was washed ashore and they made several attempts to refloat it, but all failed. Only the shell of the ship is left, and the salt in the water and air has done it's job in rusting it.
As you can tell from the tire tracks, lots of 4x4's travel this section of beach, but it's still very isolated and quiet. The beaches here are just beautiful, but not a lot of people are swimming because of the rip tides and sharks. But many people were fishing and there were a few surfers here and there.
By the way, we had a message from Miranda in Calgary yesterday telling us about the first snowfall for the year. Snow was not exactly on our minds here.
At the north end of the park is Rainbow Beach, so named because of all the different colours of the sand. The cliffs here are spectacular in their colourings. You can see some of the colours in this picture, but the picture itself doesn't do justice to being there in person where the colours were much more vivid.
From left to right, there is Rob Duncan (Emma's husband), Margaret (Phil's sister from Apollo Bay near Melbourne), Jean and Phil.
The vehicles were lined up on the beach to catch the ferry across to Fraser Island. The ferries are more like barges and they just drive up to shore and drop the ramp as there is no warf or dock to land at.
As you can see from this picture, the ramp is pulled up for the trip across. Because the deck was so low to the waterline, waves were washing up through the crack where the ramp met the boat even though the sea was fairly calm.
Both ferries were going across in the same direction at the same time. It was about a 10 min trip and all the vehicles managed to get on going over to Fraser Island, but in the other direction there was a large lineup of vehicles wanting to get back. School has been out this week, so we figured a lot of families were heading back home for the weekend.
About 1/3 of the way up, we stopped for lunch close to the small village of Eurong. Margaret is cutting the bread and meat on the hood of the car.
No picnic is complete without a beer, so here you see Rob, Phil and Jean enjoying theirs. Just before stopping for lunch, we were pulled over by a police road check where they checked every driver, including Phil, with a small handheld breathalyser. As we were standing here, the police cruiser drove past us, just behind where these three are driving.
The rules for drinking are more civilized here. It's ok to have a drink on the beach, but it's not ok to have open liquor in the car, and if you're over .05, you're charged with drinking and driving. One beer for Phil was ok.
From Eurong, we started heading over the Island to Central Station in the center of the Island. This is just a park area that use to be the center of the logging camp on the Island in the early 1900's. The whole island is built of sand that has grown and grown in size over millions of years. The vegetation on the island is quite diverse from small bushes on the coast to huge rainforest trees in the center. The whole island is dedicated as a world heritage site because it's so unique.
Phil's vehicle had to be in 4 wheel drive most of the time because in some areas the sand was quite deep. Vehicles travel in both directions in this section of road. The people going downhill have the right of way as they have a tougher time stopping, so the person going uphill is suppose to drive into one of the many turnouts provided. The theory is if it's real slippery, it's easier to back down into a turn out to let the downhill vehicle pass.
Rob is a 4x4 driver instructer (See http://duncansinternational.com) and was giving Phil some tips on driving in sand. Phil did very well as he use to live in BC and has driven on a lot of snow and ice and driving on sand is not too different than that. You have to plan your route, not drive to fast, and not drive too slow, and don't stop in the wrong place.
One of the tricks is to not stop while crossing a fresh water creek because it's all sand, there is no rock bottom. If you've stood in the ocean when a wave coming crashing in and then started to head back down and off the beach, you'll have felt the sand get washed out from under your freet. If you park in a creek, the sand will get washed out from under the tires. Add a bit of time, and you get the idea. It's a long walk home from here.
From Central Station, we took a short walk down to Wanggoolba Creek. The fresh water has been very finely filtered by the sand and was traveling quite slowly. It was so clear, that at first we didn't realize there was water in the creek and just thought it was bare sand until we had a closer look and saw a few ripples.
Margaret didn't trust her balance, so Phil had to help her over the log.
This is the view from the centre of the log looking up the creek. Was a great sight and made better by the total silence exept for the birds singing.
We finally made it to the resort around 2:30 pm. This is the view of the unit from the front door, and you can just see Jean coming up the stairs inside. The unit has a great view from the deck, but at the same time you cannot see most of the buildings in this area as all the buildings are well hidden in the trees and built into the landscape and hills.
Rob having a break in the hot tub shortly after our arrival.
Jean and Marg doing the same, but after dark. Being women, they had to add bubbles to the water.
Emma hamming it up. She is Marg's daughter and Rob's wife. Rob and Emma were married at this resort in 1998 in a party that lasted 3 days and nights.